December in your Garden:
Plant Calendulas, Cyclamen, Dianthus, Pansies, Iceland Poppies, Primrose, Stock and Snapdragon. Some late winter blooming plants to include are Begonia, Columbine, Lobelia, and Sweet Alyssum. Cut back Impatiens to encourage early spring growth. Divide Acanthus, Agapanthus, Shasta Daisies, Daylilies, Gazanias, and Huechera.
Mow actively growing cool season grasses at least twice a month now. Set mower blades to 1 ½”. Feed with a high nitrogen fertilizer or ammonium nitrate to maintain vigor and avoid rust.
Prune floribundas and miniature roses mid-month. Remove weeds and fallen leaves.
Some Specific Plants
Purchase holiday poinsettias all month long. They can be planted at the end of the season in your yard to enjoy for years to come. Kalanchoe are blooming now and make perfect gifts. While you can choose from a variety of bare root berries, rose bushes, fruit and shade trees and grapevines now, we recommend waiting a few months until the plants are leafed out. Bare root plants purchased at traditional and chain store nurseries or other stores can be dried out due to inadequate storing. By purchasing container plants you can be sure to get the variety you are looking for with healthy root and top growth. Many plants are at rest now so cut back watering. Be sure to provide good drainage and adequate windbreaks for new plants.
A dormant oil spray should be applied now to deciduous fruit trees, rose bushes and berry vines.
With all trees and shrubs, make your first pruning cuts to remove dead branches, branches that point to the center of the tree, diseased branches, and those that rub against each other. Once that basic maintenance is done, prune to shape, and to optimize growth and production. Prune deciduous fruit trees like peaches, plums, apples and apricots now. Different kinds of fruit trees produce fruit on different parts of their branch. Apple trees, for example, grow short side spurs where the flowers and then the fruits develop. Pluot trees fruit along the length of their branches. Figs make fruit at the tips of branches. Do your homework before you start to prune so you don’t remove the wood that will make next year’s crop.
Cooler, wetter weather is a great time to work in the garden but wait a few days after a rainfall. Walking on wet soil compacts it.
- Make Christmas critters from pods and cones collected throughout the year and use them to decorate your tree, Christmas table, or presents. String popcorn and holly berries to decorate your home.
- Sprinkle dried herbs on the fire to add fragrance to a room before guests arrive.
- Flowers and plants make thoughtful, personal and long-lasting gifts. Citrus plants also make excellent gifts – and come ‘decorated’ with bright fruit!